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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tuck Everlasting 40th
Anniversary Blog Tour

"You don't have to live forever, you just have to live."
- Angus Tuck, Tuck Everlasting

That's probably one of my favorite literary quotes. I'm a big believer in the notion that you should live in the moment and not take your days on this Earth for granted. However, that being said, I've often wondered what it would be like to have forever. Honestly, who hasn't?

There are obvious downsides. Losing loved ones, constant era-related learning curves, endless days, etc. Think about all the times you've looked at a clock and wished the hours would pass a little faster, then imagine a lifetime of those days where all you can do is trudge through. And if you're the least bit fashion conscious, consider the massive wardrobe turnover.

But there would be benefits to eternity. Countless opportunities to try new things and have new experiences, perhaps meeting some of the brightest minds and greatest artists of decades to come. Living history and realizing in the moment that people's children and grandchildren will learn about an event you witnessed in real time.

Of course, there's also the hope that you've found the kind of epic love that will last an eternity. The kind of whirlwind romance where every day feels like the shivers of anticipation that come with a first kiss. Eternity may seem daunting, but, if you have the right person beside you to pass the time and share a laugh on the days where there's less awe in the world around you, then living forever might not be so bad.

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of Natalie Babbitt’s celebrated, ground-breaking title Tuck Everlasting. In celebration of the anniversary, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group will publish a special anniversary edition featuring an introduction from Wicked author Gregory Maguire.

Natalie will be in conversation with Gregory Maguire at Symphony Space in New York City on Sunday, January 25 at 1:00 PM. Alexis Bledel, star of the 2002 movie adaptation, will read from the book.

Tuck Everlasting asks readers “What if you could live forever?” Doomed to, or blessed with, eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less of a blessing than it might seem. Then complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

Upon the book’s publication in 1975, Natalie was greeted with concern from parents and educators who were stunned to read a book about death written for children. She is an author who challenges her readers and thinks the best questions are the ones without answers.

This 40th anniversary will introduce a whole new generation to this timeless classic. The book has sold over 3.5 million copies in the US alone, and has never been out of print since publication.
Natalie Babbitt is the award-winning author of Tuck Everlasting, The Eyes of the Amaryllis, Knee-Knock Rise, and many other brilliantly original books for young people. She began her career in 1966 as the illustrator of The Forty-Ninth Magician, a collaboration with her husband. When her husband became a college president and no longer had time to collaborate, Babbitt tried her hand at writing. Her first novel, The Search for Delicious, established her gift for writing magical tales with profound meaning. Knee-Knock Rise earned her a Newbery Honor, and in 2002, Tuck Everlasting was adapted into a major motion picture. Natalie Babbitt lives in Connecticut, and is a grandmother of three. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Release Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?

After Lainey's boyfriend Jason publicly dumps her at the beginning of the summer following their junior year of high school, her best friend Bianca tricks her into doing some summer reading by creating a plan to get him back utilizing Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Using a 10 point list based on bits gleaned from the ancient Chinese literature, Lainey and Bianca create a strategy involving Micah, a coworker at the coffee shop where they work, who's also recently single, designed to reunite each of them with their exes. It's a jealousy pact which involves alternating dates to attract the attention of their former paramours in order to remind them of what they're missing. What they don't anticipate, is how much they start to enjoy spending time with each other, despite being from totally different social stratospheres.

Not everything about this book was what I predicted based on the brief publisher synopsis and what I thought was being set up in the first couple of chapters. I was pleasantly surprised that this story had more girl power pumped into it than I expected from a book boasting luring an ex boyfriend back using cunning and feminine wiles. As Lainey tries to repair her relationship with Jason, she finally sees how much she was changing herself to be what he wanted rather than what she wanted. There was also less about The Art of War itself than I anticipated. There were quotes at the beginning of each chapter and some discussions between Lainey and Bianca, but throughout, as much as the book was referenced, the strategies themselves were glossed over for the list that the girls derived.

The book was charming, despite being predictable, particularly when it transitioned into Lainey figuring out who she was and what she wanted beyond the expectations of her parents, friends and boyfriend. The turning point didn't hit me over the head, but allowed Lainey to come to conclusions in her own time rather than rushing to the realization that she hadn't been the person she wanted to be in her previous relationship.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: August 14, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 339
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

This is not really a review of Isla and the Happily Ever After.  It’s impossible for me to properly review it, because I am way too invested in this book, its companions, and its author.  That’s just a fact, and I cannot overlook that.  What will follow is more of a review of the series, a review of what this series means to me and what I think it means in general.  In short, this is my love letter to Stephanie Perkins.

Anna and the French Kiss is the book I recommend most. It’s the book I use to lure people into reading YA, because it showcases the best parts of romantic contemporary YA, in my opinion.  For this reason, I often call Anna “the book of my head” because it is the book I turn to whenever I need mental comfort. I’ve reread it so many times, I’ve actually lost count, but I know I’m easily in the double digits.  In contrast, Lola and the Boy Next Door is the book of my heart.  When I read the last words of that book, I was giddy for hours.  When I visited the SF landmarks mentioned in their story (especially when I saw the sign for Dolores Street), my heart nearly burst out of my chest, which would’ve made for one big mess.

After much deliberation, I have decided that Isla and the Happily Ever After is the book of my soul.  Isla’s story is about a lot of things, but it’s about learning to trust yourself, to find worth in yourself, to believe that being you is more than enough.  It’s about taking risks: all kinds of risks from little teeny ones to big honkin’ life-changing ones.  It’s about… well, I should just let you decide for yourself what it’s about.

I’ve been waiting to read this for a long time, what seemed like an eternity at times, but I don’t place any blame on Stephanie for that.  I know she fought through her own darkest depths to give us this story, and knowing she came out on the other side brings me so much joy.  This next part is hard to say and a little embarrassing but I’m putting it out there—it was around page 300 that all of these thoughts hit me all at once. I thought of Stephanie and her struggle and now her success that I held in my hands.  I thought of what that meant to her and to those who love her and to her readers and the way that Venn diagram is likely a big circle. Without notice, I began to weep. It was unexpected, but I am a crier, so that’s how my feelings come out—salty and often. I’m just proud of her.

Like I said, this is less about the book and more about my love of words—specifically, the words Stephanie Perkins has given me. It’s another knock-out, my friend. I can’t thank you enough.